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A "burly Eastern European" man from whom missing teen Jay Slater allegedly admitted to stealing a Rolex watch could be key to solving the mystery of his disappearance, a leading ex-detective has claimed.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective posted in Tenerife to unofficially investigate the case, alleged Slater's friends said he had messaged them in the early hours of the day he vanished to admit to the theft.

Williams-Thomas, who also looked into the disappearances of Madeleine McCann and the late Nicola Bulley, said he had also been assured by the teenager's friends that Slater would not have made up the claim.

And now, it has emerged that police have been looking into a late-night fracas at a nightclub, which reportedly erupted after a "burly Eastern European man" said his five-figure-valued Rolex had been pinched.

The fight, at Tenerife's Papagayo Beach Club, has prompted detectives to scour CCTV recordings and speak to witnesses at the club in order to unearth any leads they can.

Williams-Thomas claimed that after leaving a club, Slater had shared an image to social media site Snapchat saying he had taken a Rolex worth £12,000 from an unknown person.

And one of the missing teenager's friends - who travelled to Tenerife after he disappeared - told investigators the alleged theft could be relevant to him going missing.

But the former detective counselled caution, stating that his team have been "unable to validate this in terms of reported thefts".


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Williams-Thomas also slammed people engaging in social media speculation over the Slater case - which, by July 3, has crossed the 16-day mark.

He said: "His disappearance has attracted worldwide media attention and extensive coverage on social media.

"This has led to massive speculation on social media with theories, at times, very misleading with inaccurate information.

"What people lose sight of or don't consider is Jay's family and close friends read a lot of what has been posted online and in the media - some of it has been unfair and unkind to a family who are in total shock and despair."

But those closest to the teen have provided crucial updates on the case - another of Slater's friends, Bradley Hargreaves, had told ITV This Morning host Isla Traquair of what happened in his last recorded moments.

Hargreaves said that his friend had been on a video call with him before his disappearance when he heard him go off the road.

He said: "He was on the phone walking down a road and he'd gone over a little bit - not a big drop - but a tiny little drop and he was going down, and he said: 'I'll ring you back, I'll ring you back,' because I think someone else was ringing him."

The last person to speak to Slater, an apprentice bricklayer, was his friend Lucy Law.

Law said the teen had told her in a frantic phone call before he went missing that he was "lost in the mountains, he wasn't aware of his surroundings, he desperately needed a drink and his phone was on one per cent".

Though it has been 16 days since the teen vanished, Spanish authorities called off their search on Sunday.

In reaction to the news, Slater's mother Debbie Duncan thanked the Guardia Civil, but admitted: "Words cannot describe the pain and agony we are experiencing.

"He is our beautiful boy with his whole life ahead of him and we just want to find him."

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